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Shy kids might not have difficulty with language

Updated: Feb 5, 2014 09:48 AM
© iStockphoto.com / Jarosawl Wojcik © iStockphoto.com / Jarosawl Wojcik

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Shy children do not have difficulties with language, suggests a new study that challenges previous research.

Although shy kids tend to speak less, they understand what's being said as well as more outgoing youngsters, the researchers said. They also found that girls have higher levels of shyness and language development than boys.

The University of Colorado researchers assessed shyness and the ability to speak and understand language in more than 800 young children when they were aged 14 months, 20 months and 24 months. Although shy children were less likely to speak to others, they showed no signs of language problems, according to the study, which was published Feb. 3 in the journal Child Development.

"Our findings suggest that inhibited behaviors like shyness don't hamper language acquisition overall but instead relate specifically to how toddlers express themselves through words," said researchers Ashley Smith Watts, a graduate assistant, and Soo Rhee, an associate professor of psychology.

"Shy children may need help with developing their speaking abilities," they said in a journal news release.

These children might benefit from efforts to boost their confidence, social skills and independence, the researchers said. For example, parents can encourage shy children to be self-sufficient and arrange play dates with compatible youngsters.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about shyness in children.

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